Contributed by Shari Cedar – CEO & Co-Owner, AK Building Services 

How does a company thrive in the commercial cleaning industry? Some people say it’s excellent service or state-of-the-art operational software. Yes, these are crucial ingredients to the recipe of success. But I believe the secret sauce to staying ahead of the pack is empowering our team.  

Empowerment is about more than just delegating tasks or granting authority. It's about fostering an environment where every team member feels valued, respected, and capable of making meaningful contributions in what can be a thankless job. When a person feels empowered, they are more engaged, motivated, and committed to achieving shared goals. But what does that actually mean?

In a front-line service industry, where people can work odd hours, sometimes alone at night, creating a company culture that honors the value of each person and the heroic work they do creates the life force of a company. I believe empowering people means paying attention to the little things that in reality aren’t so little.  

The first step: Onboarding should be a welcome party. Maybe not a full-fledged fiesta, but certainly a full orientation to your company so team members know what to expect. Setting the ground rules and allowing people to fully understand what is expected of them gives them confidence and understanding of their role and responsibility. That’s empowerment. 

The second step: Invest in your team by providing cleaners with the necessary training to succeed. You cannot just hand someone cleaning equipment and products and say go. As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime.” Investing the time to properly train cleaners pays unlimited dividends.  At AK Building Services we use the Spartan Clean Check program. When a team member finishes a class, they receive an actual certificate. The pride someone feels when earning a certification is extraordinary. That’s empowerment. 

The third step: Arm your team with microfiber mops, eco-friendly products, proper personal protective equipment (PPE). That’s saying we care about how you work and want to give you the best tools to succeed. That’s empowerment.   

The fourth step: Encourage open communication and collaboration at all levels of the organization. By soliciting feedback, listening to concerns, and involving team members in decision-making processes, we create a culture of transparency and inclusivity where everyone's voice is heard and valued. Having a pizza party at the start or end of shift with management is a great way to get everyone together for a group check in. Everyone’s voice matters. That’s empowerment. 

The fifth step: Celebrate the achievements and milestones of our team members, both big and small. Whether it's a promotion, a job well done, or years of dedicated service, we make it a point to recognize and appreciate the contributions of our team members – internally and externally. By acknowledging their efforts and accomplishments, we reinforce a culture of appreciation and encouragement that inspires continued excellence. That’s empowerment. 

The sixth step: Growth opportunities. We believe that everyone has the potential to grow and develop professionally, and it's our responsibility as leaders to nurture that potential. Whether it's pursuing additional certifications, taking on new responsibilities, or transitioning into leadership roles, we support our team members' career aspirations and help them chart a path toward success. That’s empowerment. 

As leaders in the commercial cleaning industry, it's our responsibility to empower, support, and uplift our team members. By prioritizing empowerment, team building, and providing growth opportunities, we create a workplace where everyone can thrive and succeed. Together, we can achieve greatness and continue to raise the standards of excellence in our industry.

Shari Cedar is the CEO & Co-Owner of AK Building Services, an industry-leading family owned and operated commercial janitorial services provider in Florida, where she leads sales, strategy, marketing, communications, learning and development, and customer service. AK Building Services is GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Certified), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and ISN certified. For more information about AK Building Services visit